ABC News says documents disclosed in a California lawsuit show that Toyota's own technicians have re-created instances of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles.
"After traveling 20-30 feet" from a stoplight," says one document quoted by plaintiffs' attorneys, "the vehicle exhibited a slight acceleration then began to accelerate on its own." According to that document, which allegedly describes a Corolla tested earlier this year, "engine speed was estimated to have gone from 1500 rpm to 5500 rpm at the time of the occurrence."
In another incident the plaintiffs cite, according to ABC, "a 2003 field technical report stated that a Toyota technician verified, in the words of the complaint, a 'surge event ... even where the scan tool showed no trouble code.'"
A Toyota spokesperson told ABC: "To date, plaintiffs have not cited a specific cause that would support their claim of a defect in Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System."
According to the spokesperson, "Toyota firmly believes that the system is completely safe and that reliable scientific evidence will demonstrate the safety of our vehicles in the investigations currently underway and, ultimately, to the court."
We're a long way from knowing for sure, if we ever will, whether an electronic failure or failures contributed to some of the accidents and deaths blamed on unintended acceleration in Toyotas, or whether sticking gas pedals, misplaced floor mats, and driver error explain all the crashes, as Toyota appears to believe.
The Department of Transportation has enlisted help from two of the nation's most prestigious sources of scientific and engineering expertise - the National Academy of Sciences and NASA - to investigate the possible role of factors such as electromagnetic interference and software integrity. (See DOT's release here.)
Meanwhile, all we can do is follow the leaks and counterleaks.